Saturday, 23 May 2009

Eagle Eye

Lowdown: A regular dude finds himself fighting for the world's privacy.
From time to time I encounter people for whom the mere mentioning of me watching a made in Hollywood film generates immediate contempt. Bloody elitists the lot of them, I say, knowing fully well I'm just as much of a snob for many other reasons. Yet I have to give them some credit: after watching Eagle Eye, I wouldn't blame anyone for taking a u-turn whenever anything American comes nearby.
Eagle Eye follows Shia LaBeouf making another appearance in a Spielberg production. Don't ask me what Spielberg sees in him. Anyway, LaBeouf is a rather sleazy guy with not much of an aspiration other than going through life smoothly. Fair enough, but things don't go his way. First he hears that the twin brother of his, whom he hasn't seen for years, has just died; and then he finds his rented apartment has been filled to capacity with guns, ammo and explosives. While he's still wondering what the hell is going on he gets this phone call from this mysterious woman ordering him around. She's asking him to do all sorts of illegal stuff for her, and no matter how hard he tries he can't avoid doing exactly what mystery woman asks him to do: everything in his way, from electronic sign posts to mobile phones, cars and heavy equipment punishes him if he doesn't.
Oddly enough, Michelle Monaghan finds herself in the same boat. She's a single mother battling with life's hardship and with her former and now useless partner, and now that same woman forces her to do lots of illegal action movie style stuff or her son will be killed. With a threat such as this, Monaghan will stop at nothing. Quickly enough LaBeouf and Monaghan are in the same boat fighting the same battle, and the question is - can they defy this all seeing woman and do what should be done as opposed to whatever nasty agenda this woman has in mind?
Eagle Eye is a film discussing privacy in this modern age of electronics and networking where you can find everything about anyone just by googling their name. It suggests that we've crossed a threshold where our dependency on machines has gone so astray that we're likely to soon find ourselves surpassed or overwhelmed by them. All of which are fair claims, but... And it is with the "but" that things untangle very badly for Eagle Eye.
For a start, Eagle Eye is not original. It offers nothing that hasn't been thoroughly explored before by The Terminator, Enemy of the State and I, Robot.
Second, and by far Eagle Eye's worst problem, is that its premises is so silly the film cannot have any shred of credibility with its viewers. You have to be as thick as a dead post to accept Eagle Eye's suggestions about how our privacy can be infringed in such extreme methods; the film saying that this can be done does not constitute a good enough argument in my book; however, it does constitute as an insult to my intelligence.
The acting is nothing special, given the flat characters at hand, but Mongahan (whom I have praised in some of previous reviews) is quite bad. Don't ask me how she can put on a straight face and tell the camera during the film's "making of" supplemental that Eagle Eye represents an authentic problem. Sure, privacy is an issue, and sure, we should reign in our machines; but the main problem with Eagle Eye is not the problems it raises but rather it existing in the first place and it going way over the top to sensationalize reality in order to justify its existence.
The film is full of action so you can't say it's too boring; you won't be allowed to fall asleep with Eagle Eye. But like too many of its contemporaries it chooses to shoot with a hand held camera and to actively shake the camera during the action scenes, so the annoying seasickness turns into a complete incomprehensible mash. Throw in way too many not well hidden advertisements and Eagle Eye is a truly bad film worth avoiding.
Worst scene: We meet and get ourselves introduced to the super computer in charge of surveying the entire galaxy and protecting the USA. Can you believe this computer is shaped like an eye, so it can literally see all the information thrown at it via a multitude of infra-red transmitters thrown in a very sexy pattern all over the walls next to it and broadcasting information collected all over the world? Yes, very believable. And for the record, Eagle Eye does much worse; it's just that I don't want to ruin too much of the film for anyone.
OK, the real worst scene: Can anyone treat a film with serious aspirations seriously when it's climax is a carbon copy of Get Smart's climax?
Technical assessment: This Blu-ray doesn't deal with the film's dark nature too well, but I suspect it's the fault of the original look the filmmakers tried to convey. Other than that, we're talking pretty standard action movie production values here.
Overall: It's a shame this stuff puts all American cinema to shame. 1.5 out of 5 stars.

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